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Hydrogen fired guns

2814 Views 27 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Gyroboy01
I was watching some science tv today about a rocket program, where hydrogen gas was touted as the most powerful and lightest fuel used in rocketry.
I wondered if hydrogen gas could be used in firearms to any benefit. Wikipedia has an article on an artillery cannon fired by a hydrogen charge, claiming it has greater muzzle velocities than traditionally propelled firearms.

Do any of you think it would be worth the trouble to adapt it to small arms? What are y'alls opinion on it?

Now that I think about it, loading would be a bit of a pain: It would probably require a hydrogen bath to push out the air in the case, be ferried into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for even and consistent results. That, and we'd miss out on the smell of gunpowder.
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Hydrogen is used at a few labs to launch small projectiles into media to simulate meteor strikes.
The hydrogen is not burned it is compressed with a piston driven by conventional propellants and recycled after each firing. They launch projectiles at hyper-sonic speeds. Called "Light gas guns" they are used at labs like Rice University and Arnold Air Force base.
Some use nitrogen some use hydrogen or other gases. The idea is to compress the gas to a metallic state to propel a projectile at hyper-sonic velocities.
One such hydrogen gun was used to launch an inert "anti-tank projectile" at over 25000 miles per hour (over 36000 fps). The projectile was made of a plastic and successfully penetrated a concrete wall and two armor plates equivalent to both sides of a tank. The projectile morphed into a teardrop shape in flight due to air resistance and heat. It is not a practical battle weapon but does show potential.
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Light gas guns don't burn the light gas. They compress the hydrogen or nitrogen with a burning charge behind a piston. The piston is attached to a shaft with a smaller piston on the other end. The small piston compresses the gas until it is extremely dense and that pushes the projectile. Most of the light gases are captured and reused.
The hyper-sonic light gas guns are two stage guns. They use a propellant to push a piston that compresses the light gas that accelerates the projectile. The advantage of these guns is that they can propel projectiles many times faster than any burning fuel. Originally they were used to study high velocity impacts of small objects in space but have been modified to study the potential as armament for military use.
This video will show how and why it was begun: 19 minute video on light gas gun development.
No ignition and burn propellant can get velocities that the light gas guns get. Watch the movie to see how it was developed and why you won't find it in your local gun store.
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